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Elections and Party Platforms 

By Betsy Fradd, WSU Extension 4-H 

Beaming with confidence, shaking hands, and sounding like seasoned candidates, two dozen teens eagerly shared their views on immigration, health care, and economic recovery. Vying for the position of 4-H Party Gubernatorial candidate, youth enthusiastically crusaded for delegates’ votes at the WSU Extension 4-H Know Your Government conference in Olympia.

“I like getting my opinions out there,” said candidate Emily Jodway. “It’s important to put personal views aside and figure out what’s best for the state,” added the 18-year-old Lacey native.

Nearly 300 Washington state youth and adults took part in the mid-February conference. In addition to 4-H gubernatorial candidates, high school students became election managers and political consultants at the four-day event.

“Youth learn how campaigns impact the political process and public perception and how creating platforms drives party decisions,” said Jan Klein, WSU Extension 4-H Adolescent Leadership Specialist. 

Prior to coming to Olympia, teens decided which significant issues to address and created resolutions to be voted on as part of the party platform. Youth also practiced parliamentary procedure, researched major and minor political parties and learned about
the Electoral College.

“It’s cool to hear different views from people in other counties,” said 17-year-old Ben Vasion from Cathlamet. “It’s important to vote. I want to voice my opinion on something before it could become law.”

After impassioned speeches and nominees’ forum, Cassie Riel, 15, of Yakima emerged victorious as the 2012 4-H Party Gubernatorial candidate. Pledging to vote her convictions, she encouraged healthy debate to hear all views.

The 4-H Know Your Government Conference, started in 1978, engages high school teens in decision making, knowledge about state government, and responsible citizenship. Said Jodway, “If you want to change the world, this is a good place to start.”

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